Sentinel Beast – “Depths Of Death” RE-ISSUE (Marquee Records)
Championed by no less than Slayer’s Kerry King and Omen’s Kenny Powell back in the early days of thrash, Sentinel Beast were fronted by the power femme vocals of sultry Debbie Gunn and co founded with bassist Michael Spencer, who ironically would also spell the disbanding of the band after his departure to Flotsam & Jetsam, themselves losing Jason Newsted to Metallica! By the mid 80s Sentinel Beast were opening for the likes of Slayer, Exodus, Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Motorhead and others so it came as little surprise that Brian Slagel would soon sign them to Metal Blade, releasing “Depths Of Death”. After the band split in 1987, Gunn moved to Chicago to front Znowhite, eventually relocating to Europe to join the all female thrash outfit, Ice Age from Sweden before calling it a day. 20 years on and the cult of Sentinel Beast still lives on in Gunn having reformed the band in 2007 with a completely new line-up. I would imagine that the timelessness of the material on “Depths Of Death” is due to the fact that it isn’t thrash as such, but speed metal – a short lived genre that once paralleled thrash but sadly never continued. Essentially a speedier version of heavy metal with less roots in punk, it’s evident in Sentinel Beast’s material, with much owed to Iron Maiden especially in their OTT cover of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, which became a mainstay of their live shows! With Mike Spencer writing a lot of the material there are equally lots of hints of Flotsam & Jetsam in there too right down to the squeaking Micheal Gilbert guitar sound here n there. Gunn’s heavy, husky voice adds a dark atmosphere to the brilliant dueling Priest like guitars of Barry Fischel and Mark Koyasako that piled on mach 10 riffola amidst catchy and hooky melodies, making songs like ‘Evil Is the Night’ and ‘Dogs Of War’ as timeless and fresh as they were back in the 80s, so it’s easy to see why they are eagerly catching onto a new generation keen to check out the sound that was THE sound back in the day – speed metal!!!